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2015 - favourite plugins

 
Picture of Gavin Henrick
2015 - favourite plugins
Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersMoodle HQPlugin developersTesters

Favourite plugins and some more from 2015

2015 was a busy year, with many projects and much change. In the Moodle plugin ecosystem there has also been a lot of change with both new plugins and updated plugins.

But looking back across the available statistics, what are the favourite plugins for each main type of plugins for Moodle in the plugin database?

These are the top level categories for plugins:

  • Activities
  • Availability conditions
  • Blocks
  • Themes
  • Users
  • Course Formats
  • Filters
  • Reports
  • Gradebook
  • General plugins (Local)
  • Editors
  • Cache
  • Messaging outputs
  • Repositories
  • Portfolios
  • Plagiarism
  • Web service protocols
  • Admin tools
  • Calendars
  • Other

So I am going to briefly look at the top few in most areas!

5 Favourite Activity plugins in Moodle

There are over 286 activity related plugins, so this will cover the top 5.

The top plugin comes out as HotPot - maintained by Gordon Bateson. This is a heavily used activity that provides teachers the option to run Hot Potatoes and TexToys quizzes via Moodle. The question types include simple crosswords, matching exercises, gap-fill and multi choice questions. 

activity-hotpot

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer

 

Some activities have always been on the list of plugins that I recommend, and two of those are in the end of year top 4 for activities with 2nd and 3rd place respectively; Certificate and Questionnaire.

Certificate maintained by Mark Nelson, comes number 2 in the top 5. This enables teachers configure and issue a PDF certificate for students based on predefined conditions. This is why it is usually one of the first plugins that I recommend people install. There is another plugin called simple_certificate not to confuse the two, but both are good options!

certificate

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer

 

Questionnaire is a very powerful survey tool, which has been around for ages and is maintained by Mike Churchward. Similar to the core Feedback activity, it enables teachers create a custom survey for students.  This comes in 3rd in the top 5. I have seen this heavily used in some institutions for their centralised student end of module feedback.

Questionnaire

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer, Interaction

 

Another plugin I usually recommend comes in number 4, BigBlueButtonBN maintained by Fred Dixon and Jesus Federico of Blindside Networks. This plugin enables the integration to Moodle of the open source Virtual Classroom BigBlueButton (which is also used in MoodleCloud). The open source BigBlueButton online classroom has a great feature set and can also work through LTI - so without the plugin.

If you are looking for a virtual classroom make sure you check this out ( to test out the you can register a moodlecloud site which has a BigBlueButton 5 person room built into it as an activity option)

BBB

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer, Interaction, Collaboration

 

Coming in 5th for activities is the Attendance activity - maintained by Dan Marsden, that allows teachers to maintain a record of the attendance of their students. It can be configured so that teachers or students record the attendance. This is one plugin that once you start using you will wonder why it wasn’t installed before.

attendance

Usage: Assessment, Interaction

3 favourite Availability conditions plugins in Moodle

There are only 5 plugins for availability conditions, however I’m going to cover the top 3.

The top availability condition is Restriction by course completion - maintained by Renaat Debleu. This makes it easy for the teacher to show or hide modules or sections only when a learner has completed a course. This is very handy if you want to chain courses together.

Availability-coursecompletion

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer, Interaction

 

Coming second, is the Level availability condition - maintained by Frédéric Massart. This is used with the Experience points Set for adding more gamification aspects to Moodle. I love this set and the extra zing it can add. Download it now smile

 

Availability-levelup

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer, Interaction

 

The availability condition Moodle Mobile app - maintained by Juan Leyva, comes third and is a very powerful option. Where so many institutions are moving to a mobile first approach, this condition enables a teacher restrict access to an activity, resource or section depending on if they are accessing via the Moodle Mobile app. This way you can replace any desktop-only resources just for those on mobile.

Availability-mobile

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer, Interaction, Collaboration

 

3 favourite Blocks in Moodle

Blocks are used for many different reasons but generally add content, or feature to the course or home page of Moodle. There are 276 block plugins, so this will cover the top 3.

The top favourite block in the Moodle plugins database is the Progress Bar block - maintained by Michael de Raadt. This displays a user-friendly colour-coded progress bar with units which also act as links for each configured resource or activity. It may be deployed within one course or on the dashboard for the students’ combined courses.

blocks-progress

Usage: Content / Information transfer, Interaction

 

The second favourite block is the Configurable Reports block - maintained by Juan Leyva. This allows reports to be easily built for custom data analysis for use by either admins or teachers. Report types generated may include course, category, users, timelines and custom SQL. Reports can also be configured to be accessible by wider sets of users, ie students, if required.

 

blocks-configreport

Usage: Content / Information transfer

 

The third favourite block is the Level Up! block - maintained by Frédéric Massart. This provides a gamification tool for admins and teachers to engage their students or learners. Student actions are configured into points, graduated levels are awarded and notifications are both in the form of a fun (and customisable) displayed level icon and via messages.

blocks-levelup

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer, Interaction

 

4 favourite Themes in Moodle

Themes are used to change the look and feel of your Moodle site, or course. Sometimes they also have extra functionality built in too. There are 124 theme plugins, so this will cover the top 4.

Top of the theme list is Essential - maintained by Gareth J Barnard. A good looking theme with a serious amount of options to customise the front page and interface. This has not yet been updated to 3.0 but hopefully will be soon. Good to get ideas from for your own custom theme.

theme_essential

In second place, Aardvark - maintained by Shaun Daubney, has a simple flat look. It provides a modern look for Moodle.  If you prefer simplicity but need more than more - this is a theme to go for!

theme_aardvark

Bootstrap - maintained by Bas Brands comes in third. This is a minimal style theme based off the Bootstrap CSS framework. It is also a responsive layout theme which caters for both desktop and mobile or tablet device viewing. This is a good theme to base your theme on.

theme_bootstrap

In fourth, BCU theme - maintained by Mike Grant and Jez H, is a theme from the Birmingham City University. It is based on bootstrap and has a lot of options to customise the interface. The feature set is a collection of features seen in other themes with some new ones. This has not yet been updated to 3.0. Great for usage and inspiration.

theme_bcu

3 favourite User plugins in Moodle

The user plugins cover tools used to manage users including Authentication, Enrolment and User profile fields.

Unsurprisingly, the Google / Facebook / Github / Linkedin / DropBox / Windows / VK / Battle.net authentication plugin - maintained by Jérôme Mouneyrac, comes out top in this section. When used this enables users to log in and create a Moodle account with their existing service. This uses the Oauth2 protocol. Not sure I would want to log in with my battle net login, but I can see how this can be very useful.

The OpenID Connect maintained by many including James McQuillan, provides the Single Sign On functionality but this time with systems that use OpenID such as Active Directory.  With so many organisations on microsoft systems this is one to evalutate.

Email-based self-registration with admin confirmation - maintained by Felipe Carasso, comes in third. This provides a simple email based registration but requires the admin to authorise the account before it is active. If you want open registration, but need that control too - it’s a good approach to take.

 

4 favourite Course Formats plugins in Moodle

Course Formats change the structure and layout of course pages. There are 25 of these in the database, so we will look at the top 4.

The top format is Collapsed Topics - maintained by Gareth J Barnard. It is a nice, easy to use format that condenses the sections in the course unless they are clicked to expand. It would be great to see this type of course format available in core or at least some of the aspect of it as settings for normal topics/weeks.

format_topcoll

Usage: Content / Information transfer, Interaction

 

The second format Grid is also maintained by Gareth Barnard. This format provides a visual grid representing each section rather than a list and produces an overlay for the section when clicked. For those who want a more visual navigation, this delivers exactly that.

format_grid

Usage: Content / Information transfer, Interaction

 

The Onetopic format - maintained by David Herney Bernal, comes in third. It shows each section one at a time - and maintains the list of sections as tabs above it. It provides a different take on the section by section view that Moodle core provides.

format_onetopic

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer, Interaction

 

The Flexible sections format - maintained by Marina Glancy, is fourth in this category and enables the course designer to nest course sections inside sections. This grouping is a very powerful feature that gives the course a more structured format than the typical linear one. I forsee this being used more and more.

format_flexsections

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer, Interaction

 

3  favourite Filters plugins in Moodle

Filter plugins process and change text before it appears to the user, for example, changing a youtube URL into an embedded youtube video. There are 56 filters, so we look at the top 3 here.

The top filter is PoodLL filter - maintained by Justin Hunt. This is part of the PoodLL set and enables the user to embed stopwatches and flashcards into HTML areas. I don’t use PoodLL myself but have played with it, so can’t give much feedback on this - but it looks good.

filter_poodll

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer, Interaction

 

The Jmol filter - maintained by Geoffrey Rowland, enables teachers embed interactive 3D chemical structures using Jmol/JSmol.  Not my area really, so cant say much on this!

filter_jmol

Usage: Content / Information transfer

 

WIRIS math filter - maintained by WIRIS, comes third in the category. It works with the WIRIS math & science set to provide enhanced maths equations and questions in Moodle. WIRIS maths features are great and easy to use, gotta have a look at least.

filter_wiris

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer

 

4 favourite Report plugins in Moodle

Report plugins are tools for administrators, teachers and general users. There are 26 available, and here we look at the top 4.

 

A must have for SQL competent administrators is the top report - Ad-hoc database queries which is maintained by Tim Hunt and Mahmoud Kassaei. It allows admins to create arbitrary database queries to use in ad hoc reports.

report_customsql

Usage: Content / Information transfer

 

The Overview statistics report - maintained by David Mudrák comes second. This produces a number of very useful site and course report charts - including User preferred languages and Number of courses per size. Everyone will always want more reports, but this is a great small package.

report_Overview statistics

Usage: Content / Information transfer

 

Course size - maintained by Dan Marsden and Peter Bulmer comes third and provides a neat report of approximate disk usage by Moodle courses. Space matters, and this can help identify courses that are ballooning.

 

report_course_size

Usage: Content / Information transfer

 

The fourth in the category, Events Graphic Report - maintained by Simey Lameze, enables the user to see what is happening in their Moodle site by using the rich information provided by the new event system and logging. Love this and hope to see more features in it!

report_events.png

Usage: Content / Information transfer

 

3 favourite Gradebook plugins in Moodle

The gradebook plugins enable the site admin to extend the gradebook by adding new reports, import/export features and new grading methods. There are 13 plugins in this category and we look at the top 3.

 

XLS with Groups and Dates - maintained by Carina Martinez, is the top downloaded of the category although this has not been updated in 4 versions of Moodle (2 years). A pity as quite useful

 

Checklist - maintained by Davo Smith, comes in second - and works as part of the Checklist set. It exports out the individual checkmarks from a single checklist activity. Checklist is one of those features that enables teachers and students take ownership of their progress and management.

 

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer, interaction

 

At 3rd, the Multi Course Grader report - maintained by Barry Oosthuizen, provides a site-wide grader report pulling any number of grader reports into one page.

 

3 favourite General (local) plugins in Moodle

These plugins can impact many aspects of Moodle, and don’t fit into any specific category. They are called Local as that is where they get installed. There are 93 of these and we look at the top 3.

The top local plugin is the Moodle Mobile Additional features plugin - maintained by Juan Leyva and Daniel Palou. This plugin works with older version of Moodle to provide the extra features that the newer Moodle core has supporting Moodle Mobile. Each feature of the Moodle Mobile App requires some work on the Moodle site too, and this allows admins keep up to date with the extras without having to upgrade their whole Moodle site.

mobile

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer, Interaction

 

Second on the list is Fullscreen Toggle button - maintained by The University of Nottingham and Barry Oosthuizen. It expands the content area hiding all the side blocks - and works with themes based on the Clean and Bootstrapbase themes. We did this type of feature on the MoodleMoot site nearly two years back as part of the theme, so it is great to see it as a plugin that any can use.

local_fullscreen

Moodle Welcome - maintained by Bas Brands, comes in third in this category. This sends a welcome message to new users and a notification to the moderator of new users. Very handy for engagement purposes.

 

local_welcome

Usage: Content / Information transfer

 

5 favourite Editor plugins in Moodle

These plugins are either alternatives to the existing editors, or enhancements to them. There are 49 such plugins and we look at the top 5 for the Atto editor.

WIRIS plugin for Atto - Maths - maintained by WIRIS, is the top editor addition for Atto. It adds the WIRIS equation editor options into Atto.

 

atto_wiris

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer

 

The second on the list for Atto is the More font colours - maintained by Nicolas Dunand, and it replaces the core font color plugin allowing the admin define which colours to be available. This is very handy to ensure the colours fit with corporate branding.

atto_fontmorecolours

Usage: Content / Information transfer

 

Word import - maintained by Eoin Campbell, comes in third for Atto. It enables the entire MS Word 2010 file to be imported including images, tables and equations. Must test this sometime, sounds cool.

atto_word-import

Usage: Content / Information transfer

 

Fourth, Full screen for Atto - maintained by Daniel Thies, enables the very useful fullscreen editing mode for Atto. Loved this feature on the old editor, so great to see it for Atto now.

atto_fullscreen

And fifth in the category, for Atto is Font size - maintained by Andrew Nicols and Adam Jenkins, which allows the font size be altered as with other editors. I like to control the font sizes so this is a great addition.

atto_fontsize

Usage: Content / Information transfer

 

Cache

These are plugins for the Moodle Unified Cache (MUC). There are only five options and they are for old versions of Moodle, as the current core Moodle has included the features required.

 

Messaging outputs

These plugins redirect messages to users to other places. There are 6 options here and we look at the top one.

Mobile notifications is the messaging output to enable the site push notifications to users of the official Moodle Mobile App. This went into core in Moodle 2.7

 

4 favourite Repository plugins in Moodle

These plugins allow Moodle to connect to 3rd party repositories of files. There are 34 plugins and we look at the top 4.

PoodLL - maintained by Justin Hunt, comes in as number one in this category. It enables the user to record audio or video directly into the HTML areas among a range of features.

poodll

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer

 

In second place, OneDrive for Business - maintained by James McQuillan and others, provides access to OneDrive for Business for file repositories and can access sharepoint sites for each Moodle course. Very handy if you use Microsoft and OneDrive (I do).

onedrive

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer

 

Microsoft OneNote - maintained by James McQuillan and others, comes in third.  It allows the user to browse their OneNote online content. Not used OneNote at all, but i know some people who use it a lot and can see how this can be useful.

onenote

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer

 

Record Audio - maintained by Paul Nicholls, is fourth in the category. It enables users to record audio and upload audio recordings including via the "Moodle Media" button in the HTML editor. This is a great plugin, and would love to see Record Video/Audio in core!

 

recordaudio

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer

 

1 favourite Portfolio plugins in Moodle

These plugins allow users to export content to other systems. There are only 2 plugins and only one maintained.

Blog Export Portfolio - maintained by Justin Hunt, enables Moodle users to export certain activities and items content to their own Moodle blog. This turns their Moodle blog into an internal portfolio. For those who don’t want an external portfolio this is a nice middle ground.

 

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer

 

3 favourite Plagiarism plugins in Moodle

These plugins connect Moodle to different plagiarism services. There are 13 plugins and we look at the top 3.

Turnitin plagiarism plugin - maintained by John McGettrick and others, connects to the commercial subscription based plagiarism detection system turnitin.com. It integrates with the core Moodle assignment module.

 

plagiarism_turnitin

Usage: Assessment

 

Second on the list comes PlagScan - maintained by Ruben Olmedo and others, it connects with the commercial subscription based system Plagscan.com. Have tried many systems, but not tried this one - must give it a look.

 

plagiarism_plagscan

Usage: Assessment

 

VeriCite - maintained by Bryan Holladay, comes in third. It connects to the commercial subscription based service vericite.com. Also not tried this one before, so now have two to explore!

 

plagiarism_vericite

Usage: Assessment

 

Web service protocols

These plugins take the web services beyond what currently exist. There are no currently maintained options.

 

3 favourite Admin tool plugins in Moodle

These plugins provide useful scripts for admins to work on their site.  There are 18 plugins and we look at the top three.

 

The top plugin in this category is Merge user accounts - maintained by Nicolas Dunand and Jordi Pujol-Ahulló. The plugin assigns all activity and records from one user to another - so in effect it looks like one user did it all. Often you have multiple accounts with people registering on two emails - so this is a great tool to undo that fun!

tool_mergeusers

CourseBank - maintained by Adam Riddell and others, comes second and provides integration with a Moodle Course cloud backup service. Having a good plan for course backups is an essential part of the IT plan for hosting your Moodle site.

tool_coursebank

In third, Inactive User Cleanup - maintained by Arindam Ghosh and Dualcube Team, this deletes inactive user accounts based on a set of options.

 

Calendars

These plugins provide different types of calendar systems to the standard. There are three available so I look at the top one.
Persian calendar - maintained by Shamim Rezaie, provides Jalali calendar support in Moodle.

3 favourite Other plugins in Moodle

Plugins in this category, don’t fit anywhere in particular and do not conform to one type. There are 31 in this section, and we look at the top 4.

Top in this category is the WIRIS quizzes - maintained by WIRIS. This provides a set of commercial question types for Moodle related to mathematics and science.

Usage: Assessment

The Kaltura Video Package - maintained by Mike Churchward, is for Moodle 1.9 and is second on the list. Kaltura is a good video platform and have used it with a number of organisations, so this certainly is interesting.

Usage: Content / Information transfer

Third in the list is Navigation buttons - maintained by Davo Smith, which provides customisable navigation buttons under each activity or resource to aid navigation between them) - very scorm like with Previous/Next). This hasn’t been updated to latest versions.

ILP Block - maintained by Richard Havinga and Nigel Daley came in fourth, and is only updated to Moodle 2.6.  It provides Individual Learning Plans with a lot of information integration possible. 

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer

 

 

 

(chopping up post into parts)

 
Average of ratings: Useful (10)
Picture of Mike Churchward
Re: 2015 - favourite plugins
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersPlugins guardiansTesters

This is an awesome summary, Gavin. Thanks!

I'm trying to organize a group of people from different organizations to provide similar reviews. Ideally, we'd like to see those more easily available from the plugins database interface itself.

One of the things we've been considering is categorization like you have done with your "Usage" labels. It would be good if we could get the community to collaborate on what labels we'd like to use. I can see that you have:

  • Assessment
  • Content / Information transfer
  • Interaction
  • Collaboration

Do you have a list of these that you are using? Do you think we can set up a document/page/something somewhere to start coming up with a standard set? I think there are other category labels that would benefit as well. Things like "Learning target", that helps identify what types of learning organizations plugins most benefit (K-12, Higher Ed, Corporate training, etc.).

Thoughts?

mike

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Gavin Henrick
Re: 2015 - favourite plugins
Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersMoodle HQPlugin developersTesters

HI Mike,

Thanks for the feedback, yes as you know with the plugin book, and prior stuff - I have a detailed multi-page plugin review which I was doing for clients, including a set of criteria which were graded against. Must do something with it soon.Will be splitting the above into multiple posts tomorrow.

G

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Mike Churchward
Re: 2015 - favourite plugins
Core developersParticularly helpful MoodlersPlugin developersPlugins guardiansTesters

Thanks Gavin.

Can you share the review criteria you use, as well as the categories and other meta-data you may assign?

mike

 
Average of ratings: -
Just wondering . . .
Re: 2015 - favourite plugins
Particularly helpful Moodlers

Gavin, amazing!!

This the kind of thing that could belong in the docs.  Your list, reverse chron order with dates as you update the list.  I know it is a pain to use the images on the wiki.

Fascinating that you don't mention a few that are on our "Must have" list, they are so niche, like "sort groups when installing metacourses" plugin and Generico and Videoeasy . . .

Is there a further list of the next few in the various categories?

And there is one plugin I never knew existed: full screen for course view.  smile

-Derek

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Gavin Henrick
Re: 2015 - favourite plugins
Moodle Course Creator Certificate holdersMoodle HQPlugin developersTesters

5 Favourite Activity plugins in Moodle

There are over 286 activity related plugins, so this will cover the top 5.

The top plugin comes out as HotPot - maintained by Gordon Bateson. This is a heavily used activity that provides teachers the option to run Hot Potatoes and TexToys quizzes via Moodle. The question types include simple crosswords, matching exercises, gap-fill and multi choice questions.

activity-hotpot

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer

 

Some activities have always been on the list of plugins that I recommend, and two of those are in the end of year top 4 for activities with 2nd and 3rd place respectively; Certificate and Questionnaire.

Certificate maintained by Mark Nelson, comes number 2 in the top 5. This enables teachers configure and issue a PDF certificate for students based on predefined conditions. This is why it is usually one of the first plugins that I recommend people install. There is another plugin called simple_certificate not to confuse the two, but both are good options!

certificate

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer

 

Questionnaire is a very powerful survey tool, which has been around for ages and is maintained by Mike Churchward. Similar to the core Feedback activity, it enables teachers create a custom survey for students. This comes in 3rd in the top 5. I have seen this heavily used in some institutions for their centralised student end of module feedback.

Questionnaire

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer, Interaction

 

Another plugin I usually recommend comes in number 4, BigBlueButtonBN maintained by Fred Dixon and Jesus Federico of Blindside Networks. This plugin enables the integration to Moodle of the open source Virtual Classroom BigBlueButton (which is also used in MoodleCloud). The open source BigBlueButton online classroom has a great feature set and can also work through LTI - so without the plugin.

If you are looking for a virtual classroom make sure you check this out ( to test out the you can register a moodlecloud site which has a BigBlueButton 5 person room built into it as an activity option)

BBB

Usage: Assessment, Content / Information transfer, Interaction, Collaboration

 

Coming in 5th for activities is the Attendance activity - maintained by Dan Marsden, that allows teachers to maintain a record of the attendance of their students. It can be configured so that teachers or students record the attendance. This is one plugin that once you start using you will wonder why it wasn’t installed before.

attendance

Usage: Assessment, Interaction

 
Average of ratings: Useful (2)
Picture of Sya Rahim
Re: 2015 - favourite plugins
 

Hi Gavin,

Thank you your informative postings. Do you think you can find out about the top plugin available on Learning Analytics plugins on Moodle?

 
Average of ratings: -